The Extent Of Homelessness In East Lindsey
January 14th 2015Homelessness has been a concern locally in recent months. After Labour councillors walked out of an ELDC meeting on 10th December in protest over a lack of provision for homeless people, I wanted to dig deeper into the issue.
How many people are sleeping rough in East Lindsey? How many are recorded as homeless, whether or not they're sleeping rough? How many people stay homeless between one reporting period and the next?
I made a Freedom of Information request to ELDC for this data, and the first thing they told me was worrying.
"East Lindsey District Council does a rough sleeper count once a year and the last count was on the 13th November 2014. The figure reported to the Government was one case who was known by East Lindsey District Council to be homeless."
One case seems pretty low, almost as good as zero. So it seems ELDC is doing well in this regard, right?
Unfortunately, I know this figure to be wrong. I was personally made aware of two long-term rough sleepers in Louth around about November last year. That's only in Louth, and it's a big district.
The key phrase in that figure is "known by East Lindsey District Council". If ELDC aren't systematically collecting figures then they won't have the full picture, and even if they are the nature of homelessness means that people aren't always noticed. Fortunately, ELDC told me: "Framework are contracted by Lincolnshire County Council to provide services to rough sleepers and they often carry out counts across Lincolnshire."
The following tables are Framework's recent data. Note the irregularity of the collection dates. These aren't monthly figures.
The next table deals with households rather than individuals. Statistics on Framework's website suggests that around 68% of homeless households are likely to be single people.
So, what to make of these figures? Well, the fact that the homelessness team has a consistent shortfall of between 22 and 27 homes each month is a clear and obvious call to action. The council needs to build more affordable homes, and also the kind of accommodation that serves the needs of people most likely to be affected by homelessness. That may mean shelters for victims of domestic violence, specialist supported housing for those with drug and alcohol problems or mental health issues, or an emergency night shelter.
These are pretty cold, clinical tables of figures, and it's easy to overlook the fact that each number represents people and families. Some of them are squeezed into unsuitable temporary accommodation, whilst others are out in the cold and actually sleeping in doorways. Until the tables for the current year are full of zeroes, I don't think there's room for complacency.
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